Thursday, September 4, 2014

Cold Sands (Beyond the Frore Dunes) - ch2

Translator: ayszhang
Proofreaders: Red & Mion Sakamaki

The long-awaited encounter has finally come!

II Deadlock

The young man standing in front of me has a quiet composure with deep contours, strong slanted brows and burning eyes under them. His lips form a hard line as if he’s contemplating but his eyes are piercing like blades. Even a quiet composure cannot hide the fierce aura from those eyes. A heavy set of shiny silver armour rests on his shoulders. A majestic hawk soars within the golden carvings on his breast plate.

I admit I probably look like shit now: messy hair, shredded clothes, dirt-plastered face. And there he is, nicely dressed with a commanding air about him. He automatically has the upper hand. I push myself up ignoring the pain threatening to tear away the flesh from my bones and brush some of the dirt off of myself. Then I look up without a fear of his aura.

His eyes narrow and an unsympathetic grin creeps onto his face.

“Han Xin?” he asks, raising his brows.

Ah, just what you’d expect from the royal family. Even two simple words coming from his mouth come with the overwhelming sense of power that is unique to those of royal lineage; strong but not aggressive, gentle but not weak. He’s just like that Emperor cousin of mine-who is technically my cousin once-removed and only two years my elder. It’s as if they were made from the same mold. The elegant and graceful composure of royalty that is cut, carved, sanded and refined into you from the day you’re born into the palace. They’ve got it down to a fine art…

Snapping out of my daydreaming, I notice His Highness the crown prince has actually been waiting for my reply very patiently and politely, so much that I’m starting to think it wasn’t he who made an order to douse me with freezing water.

“May I take that as an affirmative?”

His gaze is almost sharp enough to go right through me. Then he leans over slightly and asks, “How are you holding up? This sandstorm is not for the lighthearted.”

I lean on the pole behind me and squint, too lazy to pretend as though I’m a selfless altruistic hero.

“You’d need to experience it first-hand before you get to judge it, your highness. Care to join?”

I probably have a really smartass expression because I see some blood vessels pop up near his temples.

But he obviously has a very good bring-up and doesn’t lose his temper that easily. Instead he scoffs, “This is what has become of the grand nephew of Empress Dowager Han of Great Rui. Just look at you.”

I shiver from his cold tone but casually push hair out of my face and blink several times. “War’s war. It makes no difference whether or not I’m the grand nephew of Empress Dowager Han or you’re the Crown Prince of Great Yan, in the end the Valkyries will take us all. ‘Miright, your highness?”

His eyes flash with what might be anger. “You have a lot of nerve, Han Xin.”

“Thank you,” I reply politely with a smile.

I wonder if I look sincere enough. Just so you know, being careful with your words is hard work.

He straightens up, still smiling, but his face turning gloomier by the second. “Realise who has the say here. Even if you make these smart remarks now, can you really give up your chance at life?”

My heart sinks.

I’m not a saint and definitely cannot abandon my life. But even if I don’t really like being a soldier, I’m representing my country right now.

I tilt my head up and watch him with a smirk. “Of course I fear death but I also know you won’t let me die before you get information on Great Rui’s defenses.”

His hand twitches once before closing into a fist; his smile becomes rigid.

“Since the war began,” I continue, “the Yan army has been shredding through our defenses. But now you’ve got no such luck at Rope Hill Creek, which means you still need me, right?”

His eyes narrow like arrows, like a wolf locking onto its prey.

The people of Yan have always been fierce; the rich and the poor alike enjoy hunting on horseback. The territories of Great Rui span hundreds of thousands of acres of fertile land; the Rui court governs millions of citizens and boasts an army with several hundred thousand soldiers. Yan’s power must not be underestimated for pushing such a large country to the brink of surrendering its capital city.

What did I do to become a soldier of such a nation and what did I do to come into face with such a component?

His lips curve up in an arrogant smirk.

“A saying goes: ‘Keep your friends close and your enemies even closer.’ I have followed this teaching without fail when I go to war-and also when I interrogate my prisoners,” he explains as he takes a few steps, not looking at me. “Han Xin, grand nephew of Empress Dowager Han, orphaned at a young age, raised by Minister Han, is a well-known rich playboy of the capital city. Feel free to correct me, Deputy General Han.”

An uneasy feeling creeps over me. It’s definitely something to be able to get such detailed information about me. My mind’s racing but I won’t show him the slightest sign of fear.

He turns to face me with his burning gaze. “The soldiers of Great Rui are certainly skilled at retreating all right, so much so that we could not even capture a high-ranking general. Even a dandy like you qualifies as a Rui soldier; I am surprised Rui have survived for this long.”

All the armour-clad Yan soldiers behind him chuckle with amusement.

I feel anger rising and I breathe in deeply before looking up. “That’s right, I’ve been captured, too bad for little ol’ me. That being said, what does that make the Yan army if the only person you’ve managed to capture is a dandy like me? If you think this kind of army can defeat Great Rui, you’re out of your minds!”

Crack! I hear the air being sliced open before I even stop talking and the next moment a black shadowy arc whips towards me. I hold my arms up in front of my head instinctively and immediately I feel skin being torn apart. Something thick and wet drips down my arm.

I bite my lips and look away, not giving them the satisfaction of hearing me screaming or begging for mercy. The lashes keep coming like rain drops in a storm, and then I hear Murong Yu’s emotionless voice.

“Enough. He is of no use dead.”

I drop my arms and pain shoots through them. Biting down hard, I glare at him.

“You are more courageous than you appear,” he notes.

He takes the whip from the guard and lifts up my chin with it. “They say Rui is the land of beautiful women; it seems as if their men are not bad, either.”

I feel my anger boiling up once more.

I just fucking hate getting compared with women!

I was born like this. It’s not like I wanted to!

“Your highness, it is said male companions are popular in Rui,” a large man behind him comments while rubbing his chin. “He might be a deputy general, officially, but secretly he might just be that sort of…companion for his general.”

They all howl with laughter, an obscene expression on their faces.

Feeling a rush of disgust, I pound on my chest.

Murong Yu suddenly hisses, “You imbeciles! Have you not gotten enough of losing to Zhou Zhenluan? Does ridiculing a prisoner make you forget about our losses? How many days has it been? And you cannot even take down Rope Hill Creek.”

You can hear anger in his voice even though he’s smiling. Embarrassed, all the soldiers fall silent.

“Han Xin, if you choose to continue this, I am more than willing to accompany you until the end. I am curious as to how long you will last.”


As night falls, water turns to ice and the freezing air tries to dig into my body. They put me through various kinds of torture and then when the sun disappeared, Murong Yu gave orders to toss me outside to endure the bone-stinging wind.

A desolate moonlight shines down on me. With my hands and feet frozen senseless and my numerous wounds starting to swell and exude pus, my will is the only thing keeping me alive.

I shut my eyes. Everything in the dark torture chamber is blurry except that burning flame that seems to float near my eyes.

The guard’s technique is excellent; every lash hits hard and never on the same spot twice. The sound of leather whipping through air resonates throughout the room and in the end I’m literally a bloody mess.

Are they going to beat me to death?

It isn’t until I lick my lips that I realise they are bitten bloody and my heart’s beating so furiously it might just pop out of my chest cavity altogether.

His words still ring faintly by my ear.

Corrupt officials have amassed much of the imperial court’s power; Emperor Rui Wen himself holds little true authority; the Ministry of Personnel is slacking off and you see corruption left and right; military leaders are rising to rebel against the court and the corpses of innocent citizens cover the land. Do you really expect to save a nation on the verge of destruction with this so called loyalty of yours?

I chuckle helplessly as I lie on the cold sand.

Of course I know that the glorious era of Great Rui has left long ago, never to come back; but I also know, I might be an useless dandy but I’m a soldier of Great Rui and as long as I’m still alive and kicking, I must serve my country.

South Hill Pass is the gate to the capital. In other words, once that gate is breached all that is Great Rui will belong to the Murong clan-and Rope Hill Creek is the last line of defense of South Hill Pass.

If I were to die, I would have to die a good man. I couldn’t possibly lead an ignoble existence after betraying my nation.

But then again, I fear my so called loyalty is probably not worth shit to them.

I silently laugh and drift asleep with the bristling wind and numbing wounds.


After who knows how long, I’m wide awake squinting at the bright light in my eyes. Just as I try to sit up, a splitting pain shoots through my bones.

The sun hovers steadily in the sky and bakes the land with its heat. Soon after water vapour rises from the earth and burns my lungs with every breath. I can almost feel my scabs cracking along with the cracking earth and hear the drops of blood slowly sliding down. Maybe I’m almost dead; my mind’s a blank. Right then a gust of wind sweeps burning rocks and sand right in my face as if trying to skin me alive.

Murong Yu, you fucking ass! I’d rather you aim that sword of yours at my neck; the scar will only be about the size of a plate. I fucking hate this slowly-torture-to-death bullshit! Murong Yu, I didn’t know you had this sort of fetish-but then again they say people who enjoy torturing others are most likely messed up in the head. I guess this seemingly prestigious prince has actually been scarred pretty badly.


I can’t help but moan. My body feels as if it’s been on fire.

“Oh, so loyal subjects need water, too?” he teases, showing up out from nowhere.

So, the royal family is also good at being sarcastic. I roll my eyes at him, pissed.

I thought all humans needed water to live. How does he not know that? Ha, perhaps his emotional trauma proves too severe to retain common knowledge-

“You fancy a drink?”

In front of me is a bowl half full of clear liquid. He holds it as sunlight dances off of the rippling surface.

Wow. I thought it would at least be pee or some muddy gunk. So, His Highness doesn’t have expertise on the fine details of torture....

I continue telling him off in my head but my damn hands reach out towards the bowl as if they have a mind of their own. I prop myself up and crawl over with all my efforts. Just a bit more…and it’s still out of reach.

I find a smile spreading across that damn face of his and his hand (along with the bowl!) steadily retreats further away.

Damn you, Murong Yu! Why do I feel like a rat that’s being played with instead of being eaten?

I lurch forward but he swerves to one side with that bowl of water safely out of reach. I, on the other hand, drop face first onto the ground and get a mouthful of dirt.

He perks his lips, stops, comes in close and sniffs, “What a pity, oh what a pity. What a pity for this bowl of perfectly thirst-quenching water. We retrieved it all the way from the desert oasis.”

He slowly tilts the bowl as he speaks. I watch as a stream of water flows over the brink of the bowl, drawing a graceful arc through the air and instantly getting sucked in hungrily by the sand right in front of my very eyes.

I slowly look up and lock on to his spiteful eyes.

I knew it! I knew he wouldn’t be that kind-hearted. He gave me hope and then stomped on it while making sure I witnessed all of it.

So, the royal family is definitely good at the art of torture, excelling at both the emotional and the physiological side of it.

For a moment, I seriously consider choking him to death. Bet that would bring a tear to the Yan Emperor!

I tell myself to calm down:

Do not listen to your impulses. Beggars can’t be choosers. Han Xin, you must endure! You’ve done so for twenty years! What’s a couple more days?

I turn my head away and shut him out with my eyelids.

After all, Murong Yu is just the same as any other bully, just like all those cousins of mine. The more attention you give them, the more they pick on you; if you just ignore them they get bored and leave you alone.

A shadow blocks out the sunlight and he lifts my chin up again with the silver embroidered handle of a whip, forcing me to look up at those ink black eyes.

Fuck, I hate this. It makes me feel like a fucking woman being teased.

From the looks of his fluid movements I bet that he’s a playboy, the rich kind that spends all his time in brothels and in the embraces of hostesses.

“Deputy General Han,” he smiles, elegant and at ease, “I have always thought that men of Rui were unworthy. But you, able to survive our harsh whipping and the cruel desert, are something else indeed.”

I glance, no, roll my eyes at him.

“But even so, even if you are courageous you cannot survive without water. A young, handsome man like you, mummified alive under the scorching sun, now you would not call that a pretty sight, would you?” he asks.

He simply squats down in front of me with his brows slightly arched and a gentle smile on his face. None of the eeriness from deep inside his eyes could be detected. “Master Han, if a beautiful man like you were to come back as a handsome ghost, you would have to be one malicious spirit.”

Seeing his peaceful smile makes my skin crawl.

A dried corpse on a desert, all black and burnt…ugh, gross. How could anyone let a handsome, graceful, girl-wooing, young, free spirit like me become an ugly, dry, burnt corpse on a desert?

“I must admit, I admire your courage and it is our tradition to respect our ene-”

“Hey,” I interrupt, “if you’re a man, cut the bullshit and end my life right now. ‘Cause I’m starting to doubt that you are one.”

He shrugs and pushes harder on my chin.

“Fine, there are two ways we deal with prisoners who do not crack. The first kind: dismemberment by five horses,” he pauses dramatically, his hot breath hitting my face. “The second is tying you onto a horse and letting it drag you through the vast desert… How long do you think you would last, Deputy General? With your delicate complexion, I fear it would be a worse sight than a dried corpse.”

Exhausted, I give a light scoff. “I didn’t know I had a choice, your highness. If I did though, I would choose neither. One doesn’t leave a whole corpse and the other doesn’t leave your skin intact, it completely ruins the visuals.”

Sensing a falter, I muster all my strength and grab onto his collar. I look up and snarl, “Murong Yu, I’m a man and a soldier. I’d appreciate it if you could just get it over with right here, right now.”

His body stiffens and his chest rises and drops rapidly. His expression is alarmingly dark now and the handle against my chin trembles a little.

I keep my grip on his collar, not willing to lose.

He studies me silently under the sun. His air of authority seems to push down on me as we meet in a deadlock. It’s not until quite a while has passed that he says, “I do not understand why you are holding back, Han Xin. What could you possibly gain? You have been captured for how many days now and you are the grand nephew of the empress dowager herself-you are royalty-but no one has come to rescue you or to pay a ransom. So why are you so bent on being loyal?”

My heart grows cold and his collar slips a bit from my fingers.

The empress dowager may be my great aunt but she’s never good or bad towards me. I could tell she was just acting though; she wouldn’t look at me a moment more than she had to. Now, uncle was much more obvious. I mean, even the lowest servants in the household wasn’t afraid to raise their voices to me.

I prefer fooling around outside compared to being in that inhospitable Minister of Personnel mansion because I could care less about the disdain strangers give me. So I go on lying, cheating, fighting and just causing trouble in general while comforting myself alone at the end of each day, and soon, everyone in the capital knew me as a no-good-doer.

How wasted my twenty years of life must seem.

Being ignored and overlooked by everyone has made me learn to not believe, to not care or ask for anything, and most important of all, to survive. Because as long as you’re alive, you will live on to see another day. But now....

He holds my gaze. Emotions fluctuate within those globes and I almost see pity.

“Murong Yu! Cut the bullshit and just end it!” I bellow, not willing to accept pity.

That pair of mysterious, black eyes glisten under the sunlight.

“For men, there are only a couple of things that are of worth. Just tell us everything that you know and I promise we, Great Yan, will provide you with treasures your country has yet to behold.”

“Money, beautiful women, authority, wealth and status?” I chuckle lightly.

He nods. I shake my head and drop my gaze.

“Well, I want none of that. I only wish to live a normal life, to venture through the mountains and waters of this land, to set my eyes upon the desert sunset of the far north, to experience the rainy season of the south, to embrace this world freely, to wed and raise a child. I don’t wish for wealth, merely for peace.”

He falls silent and murmurs, “That is not something someone of a royal upbringing should be saying.”

I heave a sigh.

Murong Yu, when did I say I’m of any royal upbringing? They might have seen my glorious side, clad in the finest silk, but really I have nothing but tattered bits of cloth that can barely be considered clothing. People like you who really are of royal upbringing can be so damn ignorant.

I let go of his collar and look to him, “Your highness, seeing that we’re both army men, why don’t you just let me go right now? I’ll be sure to pass on a few good words to Lucifer on your behalf when I get down there.”

Then, in a flash of an eye, like a loose spring, I pull the sword out from his side. The sunlight glides across the sharp blade as I raise it to my neck.
Dairytea's comment:  Wh-what's going to happen next?! The writer really likes to keep the readers on the edge~ >_<
Creative Commons Licence
Cold Sands - English Translation by ayszhang is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


  1. Thank you :) I really like the story.Keep up the good work.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting :) I'm glad you like it. Be sure to check back next week~

    2. How many chapters is there?

    3. There are 1 Prologue, 41 Chapters, 1 Epilogue and 2 Extras :)

    4. I hope you won't abandoned the project :DD Thank you very much :)

    5. I won't make definite promises but I'm very passionate about this novel. I will try my best to keep the updates consistent

  2. What a great, down to earth character. He seems like he'll be quite a handful for Murong. Thank you for translating.

    1. My thoughts exactly! And you'll find out real soon XD Thank you for reading and commenting~be sure to check back next Thursday!

  3. Replies
    1. Thank YOU :) Be sure to come back next Thursday for ch 3!

  4. Thank you. This story captured me from the first word.

    1. I feel so honoured @_@ Thank you for reading and commenting!

  5. YOhooo!thank u for that wonderful update. I so soooo love the story!≧﹏≦ill wait for the next update.

    1. Yay! I'm so glad you like it :D it's comments like these that motivate us to keep translating/proofreading. thank you and be sure to check back next Thursday for ch 3

  6. Mean that's so good and sad.... Poor guy, I like this stour a lot! Keep with the translation

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting :) Please come back next Thursday for ch 3!

  7. yes!finally I get chapter 2
    thank you so much! so when you will release chapter 3?

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting :D Ch 3 will be posted next Thursday~

  8. if thursday is your release schedule for cold sands then thursday will be my favorite day^_^

  9. Thank u for the update I've been waiting for it, I think that the storyline is like WAR PRISONER I love it Can't wait for ch 3!!!!

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. I love War Prisoner too I keep rereading it while waiting for Panisal`s update she is amazing always keeps us surprise release and stick to her schedule..I hope Cold Sands too is good as War Prisoner these two chapter really got my interest cant wait for chapter 3

    3. Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope it's not too similar! No plot spoilers ;)

  10. Thank you.
    Han Xin is an interesting character and i feel that i will love him a lot.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting :) I like Han Xin a lot too

  11. thank you! This new novel is very interesting. And protagonist character is my favourite strong cold type )))

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. He's my type too XD

  12. I love it. thank you xD
    how many chapters?

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting :) Prelogue+41 Chapters+Epilogue+2 extras

  13. Replies
    1. Thank uuu :) be sure to check back next Thursday for ch 3!

  14. thank u for your update, keep up the good work.XD

  15. I like han personality.....

  16. i hope it continues and updated regularly...

    1. I will try my best! Thank you for reading and commenting!

  17. Thank you, i'm already hooked, such interesting setting.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting :) This novel has a very special place in my heart and it hooked me at first glance too!

  18. Hello may i ask if this story end with happy ending?

  19. Adrian Zhang! You are like an oasis in the vast dessert of chinese bl novel lacking internet! I'm sure all the readers right now is very grateful to your effort and time for translating this. Hope we would see another wonderful translation soon. Thanks dear!

    1. Aw! Thank you so much :') It's comments like these that gives me the motivation to continue. Please check back tomorrow (pssst my posting day is Thursday) for ch 3!

  20. hey! I waited all day said your posting day is's already friday :(..chap3 please~~

    1. I've posted it. Ah, I should have been more specific as to what time zone we're running on. =u= ; (I'll be posting the releases according to the Eastern Daylight Time.)

  21. I really like your writing style! and your choosing words. It is easy to understand for someone like me who os bad in english. Thank you for translating! I love that han xi charat.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting :) I hope it can help you improve english too! I love Han Xin too haha. He is the protagonist after all.

  22. I actually like this protagonist. He is sassy and he isn't just hot air. Sure he's the sharpest tool in the shed, he still is a head smarter than most of the other protagonists I've read about.

  23. XD I feel the same haha!

    Ohhhh is he smart! You'll see as you read on ;)

  24. Thank you so much for this translation. Just started reading the novel today and I am really into it.

  25. :D yay~ welcome new reader 😘
    You're welcome~~~